Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New US Gas Rules Reduce Air Pollution and Protect the Health of Americans

Based on extensive input from the public and a broad range of stakeholders, new gas rules were put forth in the US that significantly reduce air pollution. In the absence of Congressional support for efforts to combat climate change and protect the health of Americans, US President Barack Obama continues to use his regulatory authority to unilaterally advance the national interest.

Through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Obama administration has set cleaner gas rules. The new regulations will cut sulfur in gasoline by two thirds by 2017 as well as reduce pollutants including soot, smog and toxic emissions from cars and trucks. This in turn will improve the health of American children and save thousands of lives every year. According to the EPA this will be achieved at little cost to consumers. EPA chief Gina McarCthy said the cost to consumers will amount to less than a penny per gallon of gas and raise the average cost of buying a vehicle by $72 in 2025.

"These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "By working with the auto industry, health groups, and other stakeholders, we're continuing to build on the Obama Administration's broader clean fuels and vehicles efforts that cut carbon pollution, clean the air we breathe, and save families money at the pump."

The lower levels of sulfur in gasoline makes it easier for a car's pollution controls to effectively filter out emissions, resulting in cleaner air.

The standards reduce smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent. These rules will cut smog-forming NOx emissions by 260,000 tons in 2018  and provide a 70 percent tighter particulate matter standard as well as virtually eliminating fuel vapor emissions. These standards will also reduce vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as benzene by up to 30 percent.

The EPA reports that there will also be significant improvements in school attendance and productivity due to the new regulations. They anticipate major reductions in the 1.4 million lost school days, work days due to air pollution. Total health-related benefits in 2030 will be between $6.7 and $19 billion annually. The rules will provide up to 13 dollars in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards

Despite the fact that stricter standards on tailpipe emissions will require car manufacturers the auto industry also applauded the move.

"The EPA has effectively harmonized the federal and state emissions requirements, and that's a big deal for us," said Mike Robinson, a vice president at General Motors Co. "It allows us to engineer, build and calibrate vehicles on a national basis."

While environmentally concerned citizens and public health groups applauded the news, the oil and gas industry vehemently disagreed. The fossil fuel industry mouthpiece known as the American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents the oil and gas industry, said the costs would be far higher then the EPA figures.

Republicans including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich echoed the sentiments of the API. Even with the new rules the US it still lags behind many other countries.

The Obama administration already put forth rules to increase fuel efficiency and putting in place standards to reduce the pollution from cars and trucks blamed for global warming.

The Obama Administration’s actions to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases from these same vehicles will also result in average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over a vehicle’s lifetime. The fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs. 

Despite the comments from Republicans and the API, the EPA's new rules are undeniably good for the environment and good for the health of Americans.

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